Ruth Carden is in her final year studying Naturopathic medicine at the National University of Natural Medicine, where she also educates the students about H&A products. She created that job for herself when she asked David if she could share H&A’s “amazing quality, sustainability and expert formulations, which are some of the best I’ve seen on the market” with her fellow students.
How did your path lead from getting a BA in Sociology from Gordon College to studying naturopathic medicine at the National University of Natural Medicine?
My path to naturopathic medicine was a winding one. I had moved to the US for college after spending my childhood in Serbia, ex-Yugoslavia. I had originally wanted to study medicine, and then realized what conventional medicine was like here. I decided I did not want to be part of that. Next I began studying organic farming in the Bay Area. There I found medicinal so-called weeds, and discovered the term “herbalism.” I had never heard of that as a distinct entity, since in Europe, people used herbs as medicine regularly as part of a “folk tradition.” One could buy rosehip, St. John’s wort or thyme tea at a local grocery store. Many would take regular trips to thermal springs for hydrotherapy. In a post-communist country, these things were efficient, and a cheap and natural way to improve your health. I fell in love with herbalism/plant medicine, began studying it on my own, making my own plant medicine and ethically wildcrafting. After doing David’s program, I decided I was still interested in medicine but resonated much more with naturopathic medicine.
What led you to David Winston’s Herbal Studies program?
I had studied herbs on my own and with 7Song in Ithaca, NY, but knew I needed to really dive deep and learn from a master. At the time, I was already thinking about medical school, but when I met and interviewed with David, I knew that I absolutely had to study with him, no matter what! It was one of the best decisions that I’ve made for my career. I wanted to study with someone who was both local and a seasoned herbalist, with a respectful approach to the plants – David fit the bill. I can’t imagine learning from a better teacher, especially in terms of how to approach the art of herbalism. I gained such a strong foundation which has guided me during my studies of Naturopathic medicine
What does your job as H&A Student Representative at NUNM involve?
My job involves educating people about H&A and its products. I actually decided I wanted to bring H&A to my school because of the amazing quality, sustainability and expert formulations, which are some of the best I’ve seen on the market. I wanted to share this with future naturopaths, many of whom use formulas when practicing botanical medicine. Many students have remarked to me that when sampling them, they can immediately notice the quality and depth of the products. I brought up the idea with David when he was visiting NUNM and spoke to my campus group, Herb Society, on Adaptogens. He was all for it. A bonus is that I get to talk about the various herbs and how useful they are, hopefully increasing awareness.
You are in your 4th and final year of studying naturopathic medicine, so what’s next for you after you graduate?
My goal is to obtain a residency to gain some more experience. After that, I hope to practice Naturopathic medicine somewhere in the North East or Mid-Atlantic, possibly Philadelphia, where I moved from. There’s a great need for more practitioners in that area. Longer-term goals involve practicing or partnering with organizations abroad, most likely in Europe, as a part-time endeavor and maybe even starting a medicinal herb farm. We’ll see!
Anything else you would like to share?
- We need more medicinal herb farms on the East Coast. I am excited this is a growing movement, which I hope to be part of by combining my loves for herbalism, ecological farming, and access to plant medicine. I strongly believe that plants are the people’s medicine and they should be accessible to all, whether through a company and practitioner or making one’s own products.
- Herbs have an important place in medicine right now, because they are able to do things that no medications can do. They are able to be specific to a person, their unique situation and constitution. In combination, energetically and physically, herbs can help provide personalized healing and medicine, especially in these times of chronic, resistant diseases.
- I’ve been having a lot of fun getting to know the plant allies around me here in the Pacific North West. It can take a while to get to know a place and I have only recently begun to harvest some of them as I’ve gotten my bearings here, such as Pipsissewa, which grows abundantly in some mountain areas.